• The Sperm Whale was named after the milky-white semiliquid waxy substance "spermaceti" found in its head and originally mistaken for sperm. The name derives from the late Latin sperma ceti (sperma is actually a loan word from Greek) meaning 'sperm of the whale' (strictly, 'sperm of the sea monster'). The common name for the species is actually an apocopation of Spermaceti Whale. The substance is not of course the whale's semen; it was mistaken for such by early whalers. Spermaceti is found in the spermaceti organ or case in front of and above the skull of the whale and also in the so-called junk which is right at the front of the whale's head just above the upper jaw. The case consists of a soft white substance saturated with spermaceti. The junk is a more solid substance. The precise function of spermaceti and the organs it fills is not known yet, but the role of spermaceti as a sexual selector is currently the most in vogue. Spermaceti was much sought after by 18th, 19th and 20th century whalers. The substance found a variety of commercial applications, such as watch oil, automatic transmission fluid, lubricant for delicate high altitude instruments, cosmetics, additives in motor oils, glycerine, rust-proofing compounds, detergent, chemical fibers, vitamins and 70 or more pharmaceutical compounds.
  • the sperm whale just blows huge laods and got its name
  • 1830, shortening of spermaceti whale (so called because the waxy substance in its head was mistaken for sperm), from spermaceti (1471), from M.L. sperma ceti "sperm of a whale," from L. sperma (see sperm) + cetus "large sea animal" (see Cetacea). The substance in olden times was credited with medicinal properties, as well as being used for candle oil. "Use ... Sperma Cete ana with redd Wyne when ye wax old." [Sir George Ripley, "The Compound of Alchemy," 1471] It is also called cachalot, and spermaceti whale. In the past, whalers used the valuable oil from the spermaceti organ and blubber to fuel the industrial revolution. The whales have been hunted for their spermaceti (a waxy substance in the snout, used in ointments and cosmetics) and for ambergris. The pygmy sperm whale (genus Kogia) is a black dolphinlike whale, about 13 ft (4 m) long, of the Northern Hemisphere that lacks commercial value. The head of the sperm whale may contain up to a ton of fine oil, known as sperm oil, and a wax called spermaceti. Sperm whaling was the foundation of the economic expansion of New England in the 18th cent. The industries founded on ambergris, sperm oil, and spermaceti resulted in the slaughter of sperm whales almost to extinction.

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